Understanding Payment Terms and Options for Construction Projects in Nashville, Tennessee

Prompt payment laws are a set of regulations that govern the acceptable timeframe for payments to contractors and subcontractors for private projects. These statutes provide a framework for the payment schedule to ensure cash flow and working capital, which is often the most problematic aspect of construction projects. As such, it is essential to share freelance contracts with your financial and legal teams before signing them. Some contractors may request an upfront payment (such as 50% of the total fee) before starting a job.

This is to guarantee that the company does not “deceive” them and that they receive part of the payment, as well as to make sure that the company will remain communicative and accessible throughout the employment relationship. Alternatively, a net payment means that the payment is due within a specified number of days from the date the contractor issued the invoice. Net 10, Net 30, or Net 60 (found on the invoice) simply indicate that the contractor's payment is due 10, 30, or 60 days after the invoice date, respectively. It is important to examine Tennessee's prompt payment law, as well as other rules, laws and regulations related to payment time, to learn about your rights and responsibilities as part of a construction project.

To determine the appropriate amount of refund, use the formula set forth in § 40-35-304. Additionally, without limiting any applicable law or regulation, it is not against public policy or public interest of this state for a provision in any agreement relating to design, planning, supervision, observation of construction, repair or construction of a real estate improvement to limit liability of the person who provides labor, materials or services to a reasonable monetary amount. The failure of an architect, engineer or other agent employed by the owner to review and approve a request for payment for work performed in accordance with the contract does not exempt the owner from making payment in accordance with this chapter. However, attorneys' fees may be awarded if it is determined that the withholding party acted in bad faith. The same chronological mechanism applies: once a payment request is submitted in accordance with the payment schedule established in the subcontract, payment must be made within 30 days.

If notified party fails to make payment or provide adequate legal reasons for not making it within 10 calendar days of receipt of notification, notifying party may seek equitable relief before court of chancellery of county in which property is located. It is essential to understand some of the typical elements of payment provisions in construction contracts. All construction contracts for any project in this state may provide for withholding; however, amount may not exceed 5% of amount of contract. Upon payment by an agency, company that has contractually purchased properties or services from subcontractor or supplier must pay them within 30 days of receiving payment from agency.

Payment must be made in accordance with schedule established in contract and within 30 days following timely submission of payment request by remote contractor to main contractor. Payment must also be made in accordance with schedule set forth in contract and within 30 days following timely submission of payment request by main contractor to owner. An agency that purchases goods or services under contract with company will pay for each complete good or service delivered in accordance with contract between company and agency or within 45 days after receipt of invoice covering items or services delivered. If payment terms are properly dealt with through parties' contract and parties act in good faith, most construction projects will be successfully completed without substantial payment disputes arising. To ensure this happens, it is important to understand Tennessee's two separate on-time payment laws that cover public and private construction projects.

Lynette Scungio
Lynette Scungio

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